STRATA FLORIDA ABBEY.! (PL. I. I). OF all the ancient monuments in the County of Cardigan, surely none can appeal more strongly to the imagination than the ruins of Strata Florida Abbey. For over three and a half centuries Strata Florida was a Cistercian monastery, and therefore belonged to what was in some ways the most powerful and best organised religious order established in Europe during the middle ages. The Cistercians derived their name from Citeaux in Burgundy where the first house of the Order was founded in the year 1098. There was no intent on the part of the founders to depart in essentials from the normal monastic practice of the time their ideals were still what St. Benedict had formulated in the sixth century, and the traditional forms of corporate worship laid down in St. Benedict's Rule continued in a large measure to govern the closely regulated religious routine of the Cistercian monk. It was, indeed, the aim of the first Cistercians to restore to the monastic community as an institution those things which were in danger of being lost because of the laxity of the older orders and the consequent renewal of attraction for the better sort of religious of the isolated life of the hermit. Like other new monasteries which were appearing in Europe towards the close of the twelfth century, the house at Citeaux sprang from an effort to give organised form to this revival of eremetical fervour, and from a desire to purge the shortcomings of the older monasticism by a return to a puritan severity in the outward trappings of worship, in sacred buildings, vessels, and vestments, as well as in matters of ritual, liturgy, and discipline. Another characteristic of the Cistercians was their special devotion to the cult of the Virgin, which !These notes represent a slight expansion of an address given at Strata Florida on 26 June 1948, the occasion being the first field meeting of the Society in its re-constituted form. It is also intended that this contribution to the first number of Ceredigion shall be the basis of an article on Strata Florida Abbey to be included in the first volume of the History of Cardiganshire now in preparation under the Editorship of Sir William Llewelyn Davies. The authorities, on which some of the newer material introduced into the foregoing pages is based, will be quoted, it is hoped, in the relevant section of the History. Meanwhile the writer would like to express his indebtedness to the Official Guide (H.M. Stationery Office), prepared by Mr. C. A. Ralegh Radford, for much of the data on which he has relied for the description of the monastic buildings. It is almost needless to add that every writer on the history or the architecture of the Abbey must always owe a great deal to Stephen Williams's pioneer work The Cistercian Abbey of Strata Florida, published in 1889.-T.J.P.